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“Leaderless,” Indeed: Setting Up the Dems as the World Burns

Ironic: Does no one see the incredible branding exercise here? [ Excerpt from Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part II: “Although it is obvious that the No KXL campaign logo shares remarkable and purposeful semblance to the infamous Obama logo (sunrise over stars and stripes), allowing the pro-Obama, pro-Democrat veneer to illuminate at almost 100% transparency, a natural line of defence by 350.org would be that of course they utilize what 350.org board member, Naomi Klein, refers to as “the perfectly calibrated logo” to their advantage, as, they would argue, the Obama administration is the target of their campaign. And anyone who understands advertising, social engineering and the power of the brand, such as Klein, would understand that this line of defense is bullshit. The KXL campaign imagery absolutely reinforces Obama’s ubiquitous “brand.” … Read more: http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2013/06/04/keystone-xl-the-art-of-ngo-discourse-part-ii/

 

Investigative writer/ecological activist Cory Morningstar writes:

In this latest article by Bill McKibben, he states: “Most of the people doing the work didn’t look like environmentalists were supposed to. They were largely poor, black, brown, Asian, and young, because that’s what the world mostly is.”

 

What were the people doing the work SUPPOSED to look like??? White?!”

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

Staggering. I can’t decide which is more ludicrous in the latest  TomDispatch: the insufferable self-promoter, er, “inspired” Rebecca Solnit’s hagiography at the beginning or the insufferable, er, “healthy ego” Bill McKibben’s “Leaderless Movement” composed  of sheer name-dropping and praise for fossil-fuel foundation-funded groups?

Not a word about reducing unsustainable Consumption, as usual. But plenty of the usual blather about “renewables” … it even has McKibben’s ludicrous comparison of renewables to a “leaderless” movement…as if!  The reality is: they could run the grid on unicorn farts and if Consumption isn’t drastically lowered, it’s over.

The stage is now totally set for Obama to cancel the unnecessary Phase 4. Like the dishonest  ”Clinton saved 60 million acres ” in 2000 became the  Dem/big “green” rallying cry for the 2000 Gore Campaign, so will “Obama stopped the pipeline” be trotted out in 2014 and 2016….long after Tar Sands dilbit is actually running thru the real pipes! Phases 1, 2 and 3 are already complete from Alberta to Port Arthur TX! On top of that, dilbit is already running thru Phases 1 and 2 and then transferred to barges and rail cars for the rest of the journey.

Already 90% of retail gasoline in the US Midwest comes from Tar Sands – refined in the area AFTER running thru the web of existing pipes… said refineries also have out-going pipelines direct to the airports.

Not to mention, every single Tar Sands protest relied on Tar Sands-derived gas and, especially damaging for the Climate, jet fuel to carry out. More carbon was spewed by McKibben jetting around the planet for the past few years setting up this Democratic Party “victory” than his “leaderless” movement will ever succeed in sequestering.

At one time it was the crucial “Stop the Tar Sands” (at their source). It is now all about stopping an unneeded pipeline while First World Consumption levels – the real cause of Terracide – have become a taboo subject. Talk about an Emperor with no clothes!

This is how it ends…with self-congratulatory Democrat/Foundation/”Green” cabal ass-kissing…with no calls for serious reduction of Consumption… as the planet burns.

All of the Democratic Party/Big “Green” operatives should be ashamed of their parts in this Earth-destroying kabuki.

 

[Michael Donnelly is a long-time environmental activist. He lives in Salem, Oregon. He can be reached at: pahtoo@aol.com.]

Decolonizing Together | Moving Beyond a Politics of Solidarity Toward a Practice of Decolonization

briarpatch magazine

January 1, 2012

by Harsha Walia

Illustrations by Afuwa

 

Canada’s state and corporate wealth is largely based on subsidies gained from the theft of Indigenous lands and resources. Conquest in Canada was designed to ensure forced displacement of Indigenous peoples from their territories, the destruction of autonomy and self-determination in Indigenous self-governance and the assimilation of Indigenous peoples’ cultures and traditions. Given the devastating cultural, spiritual, economic, linguistic and political impacts of colonialism on Indigenous people in Canada, any serious attempt by non-natives at allying with Indigenous struggles must entail solidarity in the fight against colonization.

Non-natives must be able to position ourselves as active and integral participants in a decolonization movement for political liberation, social transformation, renewed cultural kinships and the development of an economic system that serves rather than threatens our collective life on this planet. Decolonization is as much a process as a goal. It requires a profound recentring on Indigenous worldviews. Syed Hussan, a Toronto-based activist, states: “Decolonization is a dramatic reimagining of relationships with land, people and the state. Much of this requires study. It requires conversation. It is a practice; it is an unlearning.”

EDITORIAL | The Nature of Campaigns

tcktcktck350

Above image from the 2009 TckTckTck campaign featuring partner 350.org. 

Jim Hogan, co-founder of desmogblog.com, as well as founder of the corporate communications agency ‘Hogan’, writes about the multi-million dollar worldwide campaign here. In 2013, as ecological collapse continues to accelerate, the world’s people have little to no understanding of the extensive damage this campaign actually did as the non-profit industrial complex grossly undermined the strongest positions put forward to the United Nations by the world’s smallest states. One could compare it to hammering nails in a coffin. [” The objective was to make it become a movement that consumers, advertisers and the media would use and exploit.” | Source ]You can read about it here: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide.

 

Intercontinental Cry

By Jay Taber

Mar 19, 2013

There is nothing wrong per se with campaigns, as they are part of how we manage multiple aspects of a movement over time. If we are intelligent in our analysis, campaigns are holistic and sequential, prioritizing those aspects essential to those that follow. Sometimes an unexpected window of opportunity enables us to advance on one campaign while others are backburnered.

Government of Bolivia Denounces Illegal Trade of Flora and Fauna by NGOs

March 18, 2013

tipnis-mapa

 

The Government Minister Carlos Romero revealed that TIPNIS has become an object of predation illegal activities.

Recently some indigenous leaders pledged 200,000 hectares of forest and subscribed marketing contracts of 1,500 trees and wildlife utilization contracts with NGOs : Earth Rights International, Due Process of Law Foundation and To build Foundation, Amazon Legal Network.

As for the preliminary point of the consultation conducted in the TIPNIS, Minister Romero said that this process is subject to the minimum standards and requirements of the Commission.

Then he clarified that the consultation was made to magistrates of indigenous peoples and was applied in 58 of 69 communities in 11 months. It was 5 months for the consensus procedure and six for the query itself with full respect for the natural organic institutions.

On the alleged violation of the law of intangibility, Romero recalled that the realization of another indigenous march that rejected that condition forced the Bolivian government to conduct prior consultation, as it showed that demand for approval of such standard was not the product of the consensus of the TIPNIS communities.

The Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro-Secure (TIPNIS) is a protected area of Bolivia, created as a National Park by Decree 7401 on November 22, 1965 and declared Indian Territory on September 24, 1990, thanks to the claiming struggles of indigenous peoples of the region.

It has approximately 1,236,296 ha (12,363 km ²). It is located between the province of Beni (Moxos province) and Cochabamba (Chapare province).

It has 402 species of flora and estimated that there are 3,000 species of superior plants, in addition to 714 species of wildlife.

Source | www.opinion.com.bo

 

FLASHBACK: SYRIA | Amnesty International Silence about Killings by Militia Samir’s Uncle (Audio)

Above image: Pro-Assad rally, Damascus, Syria, October12, 2011

April 2011

Socrates and Syria

LISTEN TO PODCAST

Below is a summary of an interview with Samir, a young Syrian Australian who has visited Syria twice since the beginning of the crisis there. His last visit was in October 2011.

Samir tells the story of the killing of his uncle, a young unmarried farmer, and his two friends in April 2011.  They were shot by a ‘terrorist group’ on their way from their hometown to Damascus, where they were going to take their produce to a market.

It is assumed that the three men were targeted because their number plate indicated they were from Tartous, a small city on the Mediterannean, which has a large support base for the president.

FLASHBACK: The “Green Revolution” | Bill Gates, Philanthropy and Social Engineering

by Michael Barker

Variant, issue 35

July 2009

Like many of the world’s richest businessmen [1], Bill Gates believes in a special form of democracy, otherwise known as plutocracy; that is, socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. Following in the footsteps of John D. Rockefeller’s and Andrew Carnegie’s charitable foundations, Gates, like most capitalists, relies upon the government to protect his business interests from competition, but is less keen on the idea of a government that acts to redistribute wealth to the wider populous.

Latin America | WATCH: Uruguay President Jose Mujica – The World’s Least Selfish President

Imagine if all world “leaders” truly led by such example …

Jose Mujica: The world’s ‘poorest’ president

By Vladimir Hernandez

BBC Mundo, Montevideo

Jose Mujica and his dogs outside his home

 

It’s a common grumble that politicians’ lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Not so in Uruguay. Meet the president – who lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away most of his pay.

Laundry is strung outside the house. The water comes from a well in a yard, overgrown with weeds. Only two police officers and Manuela, a three-legged dog, keep watch outside.

This is the residence of the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle clearly differs sharply from that of most other world leaders.

President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife’s farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo.

The president and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers.

This austere lifestyle – and the fact that Mujica donates about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to $12,000 (£7,500), to charity – has led him to be labelled the poorest president in the world.

“I may appear to be an eccentric old man… But this is a free choice.”

“I’ve lived like this most of my life,” he says, sitting on an old chair in his garden, using a cushion favoured by Manuela the dog.

“I can live well with what I have.”

His charitable donations – which benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs – mean his salary is roughly in line with the average Uruguayan income of $775 (£485) a month.

President Mujica's VW Beetle All the president’s wealth – a 1987 VW Beetle

 

In 2010, his annual personal wealth declaration – mandatory for officials in Uruguay – was $1,800 (£1,100), the value of his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.

This year, he added half of his wife’s assets – land, tractors and a house – reaching $215,000 (£135,000).

That’s still only about two-thirds of Vice-President Danilo Astori’s declared wealth, and a third of the figure declared by Mujica’s predecessor as president, Tabare Vasquez.

Elected in 2009, Mujica spent the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Uruguayan guerrilla Tupamaros, a leftist armed group inspired by the Cuban revolution.

He was shot six times and spent 14 years in jail. Most of his detention was spent in harsh conditions and isolation, until he was freed in 1985 when Uruguay returned to democracy.

Those years in jail, Mujica says, helped shape his outlook on life.

Tupamaros: Guerrillas to government

Jose Mujica - in silhouette - speaking at a rally to commemorate the formation of the Frente Amplio

 

-Left-wing guerrilla group formed initially from poor sugar cane workers and students

-Named after Inca king Tupac Amaru

-Key tactic was political kidnapping – UK ambassador Geoffrey Jackson held for eight months in 1971

-Crushed after 1973 coup led by President Juan Maria Bordaberry

-Mujica was one of many rebels jailed, spending 14 years behind bars – until constitutional government returned in 1985

-He played key role in transforming Tupamaros into a legitimate political party, which joined the Frente Amplio (broad front) coalition

“I’m called ‘the poorest president’, but I don’t feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more,” he says.

“This is a matter of freedom. If you don’t have many possessions then you don’t need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself,” he says.

“I may appear to be an eccentric old man… But this is a free choice.”

The Uruguayan leader made a similar point when he addressed the Rio+20 summit in June this year: “We’ve been talking all afternoon about sustainable development. To get the masses out of poverty.

“But what are we thinking? Do we want the model of development and consumption of the rich countries? I ask you now: what would happen to this planet if Indians would have the same proportion of cars per household than Germans? How much oxygen would we have left?

“Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.”

Mujica accuses most world leaders of having a “blind obsession to achieve growth with consumption, as if the contrary would mean the end of the world”.

Tabare Vasquez, his supporters and relatives on a balcony at Uruguay's official presidential residence Mujica could have followed his predecessors into a grand official residence

 

But however large the gulf between the vegetarian Mujica and these other leaders, he is no more immune than they are to the ups and downs of political life.

“Many sympathise with President Mujica because of how he lives. But this does not stop him for being criticised for how the government is doing,” says Ignacio Zuasnabar, a Uruguayan pollster.

The Uruguayan opposition says the country’s recent economic prosperity has not resulted in better public services in health and education, and for the first time since Mujica’s election in 2009 his popularity has fallen below 50%.

This year he has also been under fire because of two controversial moves. Uruguay’s Congress recently passed a bill which legalised abortions for pregnancies up to 12 weeks. Unlike his predecessor, Mujica did not veto it.

President Mujica's house Instead, he chose to stay on his wife’s farm

He is also supporting a debate on the legalisation of the consumption of cannabis, in a bill that would also give the state the monopoly over its trade.

“Consumption of cannabis is not the most worrying thing, drug-dealing is the real problem,” he says.

However, he doesn’t have to worry too much about his popularity rating – Uruguayan law means he is not allowed to seek re-election in 2014. Also, at 77, he is likely to retire from politics altogether before long.

When he does, he will be eligible for a state pension – and unlike some other former presidents, he may not find the drop in income too hard to get used to.

March 2010

Envío

Managua, Nicaragua

“At The Heart of Uruguayan Democracy, Surrounded by Thinking Heads”

On March 1 (2010), José “Pepe” Mujica took office as the President of Uruguay. He is a former Tupac Amaru guerrilla fighter, who later became a senator, congressman and minister in different governments and is another “invictus” of contemporary history. This speech, which he gave to his country’s intellectuals during the campaign, explains a whole program for reflection, action and life.

 

José Mujica

Dear friends, life has been extraordinarily generous to me. It has given me endless satisfactions beyond my wildest dreams. Almost all of them are undeserved, but none more so than the one I have today: finding myself here now at the heart of Uruguayan democracy, surrounded by hundreds of thinking heads. Thinking heads on the left and right! Thinking heads all over the place, loads and loads of thinking heads…

Do you remember Scrooge McDuck, Donald’s millionaire uncle who swam in a pool full of bank notes? The guy had developed a physical sensuality for money. I like to think of myself as someone who likes to bathe in swimming pools full of other people’s intelligence, culture and wisdom. The more alien the better. The less they coincide with my limited knowledge, the better. The weekly newspaper Búsqueda has a beautiful phrase it uses as an insignia: “What I say I don’t say as a knowing man, but rather looking together with you.” For once we agree. Yes, we’ll agree!

I don’t say what I say as a know-all small farmer or a well-read gaucho minstrel; I say it searching together with you. I say it searching, because only the ignorant believe the truth is definitive and solid, when really it’s only temporary and gelatinous. It has to be sought out because it goes running from hiding place to hiding place. And woe to anyone who hunts alone. It has to be done with you, with those who have made intellectual work their raison d’être, those who are here and the many more who aren’t.

From all the disciplines

If you look to the side you’ll surely see some familiar faces because these are people from related areas of work. But you’ll see many more unknown faces, because the rule of this convocation has been heterogeneity. The people here include those dedicated to working with atoms and molecules and those dedicated to studying the rules of production and exchange in society. There are people from the basic sciences and from the social sciences, which is almost its opposite; there are people from biology and the theater, as well as from music, education, law and the carnival.

And to ensure that nobody is missing, there are people from economics, macroeconomics, microeconomics, compara¬tive economics and even someone from domestic economics. All of them are thinking heads, but they are thinking about different things and can help improve this country from their different disciplines. Improving this country means many things, but from the emphases we want for this session, it means pushing the complex processes that multiply the intellectual power gathered here a thousand times. It means that in 20 years an event like this won’t fit in the Centenary Stadium, because Uruguay will be swamped with engineers, philosophers and artists.

It isn’t that we want a country that breaks world records for the pure pleasure of doing so. It’s because it has been demonstrated that once intelligence acquires a certain degree of concentration in a society it becomes contagious.

Distributed intelligence

If one day we fill stadiums with professionally trained people it will be because outside, in society, hundreds of thousands of Uruguayans have cultivated their capacity to think. The intelligence that provides benefits to a country is distributed intelligence; it isn’t just confined to laboratories or universities, but circulates in the streets. It’s the kind of intelligence used to sow, use a lathe, drive a forklift truck or program a computer, as well as to cook or to properly attend to a tourist’s needs. Some will climb up more rungs than others, but it’s the same ladder and the lower rungs are the same ones used for both nuclear physics and managing a field. What is needed for all of this is the same curious look, hungry for knowledge and unsatisfied. It ends up knowing, because previously we knew enough to feel uncomfortable with not knowing. We learn because we have an itch acquired through cultural contagion almost as soon as we open our eyes to the world.

I dream of a country in which parents show their little children grass and ask them, “Do you know what this is? It’s a plant that processes the sun’s energy and the earth’s minerals.” Or show them the starry sky and use that spectacle to make them think about the celestial bodies, the speed of light and the transmission of waves. And don’t worry; those little Uruguayans are still going to play soccer. It’s just that at some point as they watch the ball bouncing, they can also think about the elasticity of the materials that makes it bounce.

The capacity for self-questioning

There’s a saying, “Don’t give a child fish, teach him to fish.” Today we should be saying, “Don’t give a child a fact, teach him to think.” The way we’re going, the deposits of knowledge aren’t going to be inside our heads any more, but rather outside, available to be looked up on the internet. All the information is going to be there, all the facts, everything that’s already known. In other words, all the answers.

But what won’t be there is all of the questions. What’s going to matter will be the capacity for self-questioning, the capacity to formulate fertile questions that trigger new research and learning efforts. And that can be found down here, almost etched on our skulls, so deep down we’re almost unaware of it. We simply have to learn to look at the world with a question mark, and it becomes the natural way of looking.

It’s something we acquire early on and that remains with us for life. And above all, dear friends, it’s contagious. Throughout time, it has been you, those who dedicate themselves to intellectual activity, who have been responsible for scattering the seed. Or to put it in words that mean a lot to us, you’ve been responsible for setting off the admirable alarm. Please, go forth and infect.

Don’t spare anyone! We need a kind of culture that’s propagated in the air, among households, that slips into kitchens and is even in the bathroom. When that happens, the game is almost won forever, because it breaks the basic ignorance that makes many weak, generation after generation.

Knowledge is pleasure

We need to spread intelligence, first and foremost to turn us into more powerful producers. And that’s almost a question of survival. But in this life, it’s not just about producing; you also have to enjoy.

You know better than anyone that both effort and pleasure are involved in knowledge and culture. They say that the people who jog along La Rambla reach a kind of ecstasy where tiredness no longer exists, only pleasure. I believe the same is true with knowledge and culture. There comes a point in which studying or researching or learning is no longer an effort and becomes pure enjoyment. It would be so good for such delicacies to be available to many people!

How good it would be if the quality of life basket that Uruguay can offer its people were to have a good number of intellectual consumer items. Not because it would be elegant, but because it’s pleasurable; it’s something that can be enjoyed with the same intensity as eating a plate of noodles.

There’s no obligatory list of things that make us happy! Some may think of the ideal world as a place full of shopping centers where people are happy because everyone can leave loaded down with bags of new clothes and boxes of electrical appliances… I have nothing against that vision; I’m just saying it isn’t the only one possible. I’m saying we can also think about a country in which people choose to fix things rather than throw them out, can have a small car rather than a big one, can wrap up warmer rather than turning up the heat.

The most mature societies don’t squander. Go to the Netherlands and you’ll see cities full of bicycles. You’ll realize there that consumerism isn’t the choice of humanity’s real aristocracy. It’s the choice of novelty-lovers and the frivolous.

The Dutch also get around by bicycle. They use them not only to go to work but also to go to concerts and parks, because they’ve reached a level where their day-to-day happiness is fed by both material and intellectual consumptions. So, my friends, go and spread the pleasure provided by knowledge, while my modest contribution will be to try to get Uruguayans to take bike ride after bike ride…

With nonconformity

I asked you before to spread a curious look at the world, which is in the very DNA of intellectual work. And now I’m extending that request and begging you to spread independence. I’m convinced that this country needs a new epidemic of dissidence like the one intellectuals generated decades ago. In Uruguay, those of us in the leftist political arena are the children or nephews and nieces of the great Carlos Quijano’s weekly newspaper Marcha.

That generation of intellectuals took on the task of being the nation’s conscience. They went around with pins in their hands bursting balloons and deflating myths, particularly the myth that Uruguay was a multi-champion: the champion of culture, education, social development and democracy.

Like we were going to be champions of anything! Much less during those years, in the fifties and sixties, when the only record we knew how to compete for was the Latin American country with the least growth in 20 years. Only Haiti ranked higher than us on that.

Those intellectuals helped demolish that Uruguay of the conformist siesta. With all its defects, we prefer this stage, where we are humbler and more aware of our real stature in the world. But we have to recover that dissatisfaction and try to get it under the skin of the whole of Uruguay.

I told you earlier that the intelligence that works for a country is distributed intelligence. Now I’m telling you that the nonconformity that works for a country is distributed nonconformity, the kind that invades everyday life and pushes us to wonder whether we can’t find a better way of doing whatever we’re doing.

Nonconformity is part of the very nature of the work you do and it needs to become second nature for all of us. A culture of nonconformity is one that doesn’t let us stop until we achieve more kilos per hectare of wheat or more liters of milk per cow. Everything, absolutely everything, can be done a little better today than it was yesterday, from making a hotel bed to making an integrated circuit. We need an epidemic of nonconformity. And that’s also culture; it’s also something that’s irradiated from the intellectual center of society to its periphery.

Nonconformity is what has won respect for small societies and what they do. Take the Swiss, a handful of crazy people, just like us, who allow themselves the luxury of going around selling Swiss quality or Swiss precision. I’d say that what they’re really selling is Swiss intelligence and nonconformity, which they’ve scattered throughout their society.

Education is the way

And friends, the bridge between today and the tomorrow we want to see has a name; it’s called education. You can see that it’s a long, difficult bridge to cross, because education rhetoric is one thing and deciding to make the sacrifices imvolved in launching a great educational effort and sustaining it over time is quite another.

Investments in education produce slow yields and thus don’t put a shine on any government; they rather generate resistance by forcing the postponement of other demands. But it has to be done. We owe it to our children and grandchildren. And it has to be done now, when the technological miracle of the Internet is still fresh and never-before-seen opportunities to access knowledge are opening up.

I grew up with the radio and witnessed the birth of television, followed by color television and satellite transmission. Then 40 channels appeared on my television, including ones transmitted live from the United States, Spain and Italy. Then came cell phones and computers, which at first only served to process numbers. And each time, it left my mouth agape.

But now with the Internet my capacity for surprise has been exhausted. I feel like those humans who saw a wheel or fire for the first time. You feel you were lucky enough to experience a historical milestone. The doors of all the libraries and museums are opening up; all scientific journals and all books in the world are going to be available, and probably all the films and the music in the world as well. It’s overwhelming.
So we need all Uruguayans, particularly little Uruguayans, to learn how to swim in that torrent. We have to climb aboard that current and navigate in it like a fish in water. We’ll achieve that if that intellectual matrix we mentioned earlier is solid, if our little ones know how to produce ordered reasoning and how to ask worthwhile questions. It’s like a race on two different tracks, up there in the information ocean and down here preparing for trans-Atlantic navigation.

Full-time schools, faculties in the country’s interior, mass tertiary education. And probably English in state education from pre-school level, because English isn’t just the language Yankees speak; it’s the language the Chinese use to communicate with the world. We can’t be on the outside. We can’t leave our little ones out in the cold. These are the tools that let us interact with the universal explosion of knowledge. This new world doesn’t simplify our life, it complicates it. It forces us to take education further and deeper. There’s no greater task facing us.

Idealism at the service of the State

Dear friends, we are in electoral times. In blessed and cursed electoral times. Cursed, because we fight and run races against each other. Blessed, because they allow us to live in civilized coexistence. And blessed once again because despite all their imperfections, they make us the masters of our own fate. All of us here have learned that the worst democracy is preferable to the best dictatorship.

In electoral times, we all organize in groups, factions and parties; we surround ourselves with technicians and professionals and parade before the sovereign. There’s adrenaline and enthusiasm. But afterwards, someone wins and someone loses. And that shouldn’t be a drama. With one set of people or another, Uruguayan democracy will continue on its path and find the formulae to take it towards wellbeing. We’ll be trying to lend a hand wherever we’re needed. And I’m sure the same is true of you as well.

Society, the State and the government require your many talents and require even more your idealistic attitude. Those of us here went into politics to serve, not so the State would serve our interests. Good faith is our only intransigence. Almost everything else is negotiable. Thank you for accompanying me.

 

 

Return to Philanthropy?

New Left Project

October 31, 2012

by Michael Barker

 

Philanthropy, we are told, is to replace the welfare state: instead of attempting to redistribute wealth via taxation and democratic planning, austerity politicians are in the process of dispatching with what they view as an irritating relic of working class history. In its place we are informed that we should rely upon the charity of the greediest and most exploitative subset of society, our country’s leading capitalists. A group of individuals whose psychological temperament is better described as psychopathic rather than altruistic.[1]

While many corporate executives may well have numerous commendable personal traits, their commitment to pursuing their own class interests — at the expense of the mass of humanity — necessarily means that they must master the means to mask their illegitimate power and actively encourage a sense of futility amongst the governed. The creation of non-profit corporations, otherwise known as philanthropic foundations, thereby serves a critical function for powerful elites:letting them distance themselves from their psychopathic for-profit offspring, and allowing capitalists to recast themselves as good Samaritans striving to work for the common good.

Under the ideological onslaught of the “Big Society”, philanthropy is now a big and highly profitable business in itself. Tens of thousands of individuals are employed in this booming industry whose very growth is inversely related to the cutting of much-needed public services. Yet this philanthropic sector is hardly new, and can trace its institutional history to the old charity organisations of the nineteenth century.

In fact to this day, the Charity Organization Societies that were initially formed in 1869 continue to be used as a misleading “institutional model to illustrate the alleged advantages of voluntarism over state benefits.”[2] This is a model of manipulation that was quickly exported to the United States. In time these charity societies found their replacement through the institutionalisation of philanthropy in the form of dedicated foundations, which were quickly used as a weapon of capitalist reform against a militant and increasingly socialist working class.[3]

For the past several decades the pro-capitalist ideology guiding the foundation-world has been gaining the ears of the rich and powerful in the UK, and its historical lessons are currently being reintegrated into the British ruling classes’ war against life. Groups at the forefront of this educative endeavour are numerous, but perhaps the most significant is the Association of Charitable Foundations, which was set up in 1989 — with grants given by their members amounting to £1.2 billion in 2005 alone.

A former senior executive at private equity company 3i plc, John Kingston, is the current chairman of the Association of Charitable Foundations, a position of authority he bolsters through serving as a board member of David Cameron’s recently launched Big Society Capital. Kingston is supported at the Association by his vice chair, Sara Llewellin, who is the chief executive of the leading liberal foundation — ostensibly “committed to funding and encouraging the promotion of social justice” — the “Big Society”

With the Association of Charitable Foundations being of fairly recent origin, an apt forerunner in the UK sis the Charities Aid Foundation. This Foundation was was formed in 1924 as the Charities Department of the National Council of Social Service, in order to encourage efficiency in charitable giving. In 1959, the Charities Department changed its name to become what is now known as the Charities Aid Fund (CAF); while the National Council of Social Service itself is now called the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

In late 2010, Dominic Casserley, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, became CAF’s chairman, only retiring from his position as the chairman of the major British charity Action on Addiction in 2012. Casserley’s predecessor at CAF was the former chief executive at the London-based investment bank SG Warburg & Company, Lord Cairns; while CAF’s current chief executive is John Low, an individual who in recent months stepped down from his position as the chairman of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) — the professional body for the third sector’s usually overpaid chief executives. Low also serves alongside the aforementioned Sara Llewellin on the board of trustees of Charity Bank, an organisation which helps financial investors “facilitate real social change.” The type of social change being facilitated equates with activities that enable and empower the ongoing priviatisation of public services, something that ACEVO chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb is certainly familiar with, given his recently revealed key role in the ongoing privatisation of the NHS.

The close relationship between capitalist enemies of public services and the promoters of voluntary work should come as no surprise. And a key addition to the ruling classes’ armory in their longstanding efforts to undermine the welfare provisions of the state is Dartington Hall Trust’s School for Social Entrepreneurs. This “School” was founded in 1997 by Michael Young, a former Director of the pro-capitalist Political and Economic Planning think tank, who is best known as being the man who coined the phrase “social entrepreneur.”[4] Funding for this project came from HSBC Holdings plc, the National Lottery Charities Board and the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs’ founding chairman was the late James Cornford (1935-2011), who just prior to his death acted as the chair of Dartington Hall Trust. Having been a policy wonk for the ruling class for decades, Cornford previously serving as the first Director (1989-94) of the New Labour think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research — the very think tank that helped provide the intellectual fodder to allow the Labour Party to dispatch its working-class roots. Another notable trustee of the School for Social Entrepreneurs is Vaughan Lindsay, who became the CEO of Dartington Hall Trust in 2004 after leaving an illustrious career in the corporate world, where he had most recently worked for healthcare privatizer McKinsey & Company.

Notably the current chairman of the Institute for Public Policy Research is James Purnell, who recently served as a board member of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations. Blue Labour operative Purnell presently acts as a senior advisor for the world’s leading advisor on business strategy, Boston Consulting Group, and is a trustee of Citizens UK — a group whose “goal is to increase the power of communities to participate in public life.” Dismantling the welfare state being one way sure fire way in which to force increased public participation in public life.

Given the insidious way in which elite philanthropy works to defang and delimit the processes of beneficial social change, it is vital that progressives begin seriously to tackle the vexing questions surrounding the mostly unmentioned power of philanthropy, most especially that of liberal elites. Thankfully in the past few years this dialogue has gained much needed support from the publication of two books, Joan Roelofs’ Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (2003), and INCITE!’s The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (2007). However, the most important work still needs to be done: together we need to launch a popular debate about the corrosive influence of foundations on progressive social change, and then begin to propose and support alternative (sustainable) solutions to funding progressive groups all over the world.

Michael Barker is an independent researcher who currently resides in the UK and blogs at http://michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com/.

For more New Left Project coverage of the Big Society project, see Emma Dowling’s series here, here and here.

 


[1] Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (Free Press, 2004).

[2] Robert Humphreys, Poor Relief and Charity, 1869-1945: the London Charity Organization Society (Palgrave, 2001).

[3] Sheila Slaughter and Edward Silva, “Looking backwards: how foundations formulated ideology in the Progressive Period,” in Robert Arnove, (ed.), Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (Boston, 1980).

[4] Asa Briggs, Michael Young: Social Entrepreneur (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001), p.328.

Subverting Sovereignty

Skookum: *An online journal of the American psyche in transition*

by Jay Taber

November 4, 2012

 

As reported at Wrong Kind of Green, the expulsion of USAID from Russia and Latin America is long overdue, and given the history of USAID’s involvement in overthrowing and destabilizing governments unwilling to yield to US dictates, it’s surprising that it took so long. This doesn’t mean that the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency will stop spying on governments that seek independence from the US; it simply means that US spies and provocateurs will no longer be able to work undercover as USAID operatives.

As noted in other WKOG articles and special reports, though, US spies and provocateurs will still be able to work undercover as employees of NGOs, funded by foundations established by US elites to undermine opposition to US hegemony. With help from the Rockefellers, Ford and Soros, subverting sovereignty and derailing democracy worldwide will continue, albeit in a manner that puts authentic non-profits and independent journalists at risk.

While this is a risk that US elites are more than willing to take, it is understandable that some countries will see classifying all Americans visiting their countries as possible spies as a precautionary principle. It’s merely the logical consequence of a half century of perverted US foreign policy.